Necrology Tells All

Necrology. Sounds so ominous and spooky!

But in this case, the necrology, or list of the dead, that was kept by Sister Bartolomea Riccoboni is a valuable document that reveals so much about the life of the nuns at the Church of Corpus Domini in Venice.


For example, Sister Lucia Tiepolo, who became the prioress, decided to build the church on its particular location after a great snow storm left a pile of snow that didn’t melt. She earned some of the money to build the church with funds from concocting simple medicines for others. “Go to Venice and build me a convent in my name,” (Riccoboni 26) she was commanded by a vision of Jesus Christ.


Many of the sisters saw illness as a “gift from God” to test their faith (67), and they took great care of those who were suffering. They lived much of their day in complete silence, and Sister Bartolomea reports that often their religious fervor was exultant. Some women seemed to glow with internal light, particularly at the moment of death. Some even smiled or laughed joyfully upon dying, knowing they were soon to meet their God.


The Church of Corpus Domini was founded in 1375 but consecrated on this day, June 29, 1394, 621 years ago. It no longer stands, having been replaced by the train station, though it shows up on old maps and etchings. Today I honor these women who founded a refuge for their sisters, a place where they could practice their faith and care for others.

A fuller story with more quotes is available in my book A Beautiful Woman in Venice

(Quotes taken from Life and Death in a Venetian Convent by Sister Bartolomea Riccoboni. The detail from Barbari’s map is taken from the website, as is the etching of the buildings.)

About seductivevenice

Teacher, writer, traveler, dancer, reader, photographer, gardener.
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2 Responses to Necrology Tells All

  1. Nancy Schwalen says:

    A train station!?! It is unfortunate that such a special place for these special women is not something so ordinary.

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